Angel is haunted by the spirits of people he's killed, and the Scooby Gang suspect an ancient evil is involved.
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Fourteen million square miles of them, and that's not including a lot of natural cave formations and a gateway to Hell.
- Abusive Parents: We get our first mention of Xander's troubled home life, in a reference to him sleeping outside to avoid their drunken squabbles.
- Aesop Amnesia: Buffy's resolution in "Lovers Walk" to stay away from Angel gets thrown out the window when she has to intervene to stop Angel from committing suicide.
- A Form You Are Really, Really Not Comfortable With: The First appears in the form of Jenny Calender, killed by Angelus in "Passions", plus several other victims from before he was ensouled. The First also uses the Jenny form with Buffy, who has her own guilt issues in that area (Buffy failing to kill Angelus in "Innocence" led to Jenny's death).
- Accidental Innuendo (In-Universe): Joyce is putting up the Christmas decorations; Buffy is thinking about her Erotic Dream.
Joyce: So, angel's on top again?
Buffy: (startled) What?
Joyce: (holds up an angel and a star) Angel or star?
Buffy: Oh, uh... star. Star.
- Actor Allusion: The maid Margaret is played by Cornelia Hayes O'Herlihy, who played Princess Margaret in Gods and Monsters.
- A Friend in Need: Despite their antipathy towards Angel, Giles and Xander work to save him.
- Always a Bigger Fish
Willy: Apparently there's been a lot of migration out of Sunnydale from the lower inhabitants. Something's scaring them off, and these are things that aren't easily scared.
- An Axe to Grind: Buffy finds a handy axe lying among the Christmas trees, and chops a hole down into where the Bringers are lurking. And then chops a hole in some Bringers.
- The Atoner: Xander helps Buffy find out what's wrong with Angel, presumably to make up for his actions re Angel in "Revelations". Averted with Angel, whose sins are so numerous and terrible he believes he can't possibly atone.
- Badass Boast: The First talking about how evil it is. Buffy is not impressed.
- Bad Dreams
- Bait-and-Switch Comment: Angel decides to kill himself. Jenny!First says "You're not supposed to die, that's not the plan." After Angel leaves she adds, "But it will do."
- Behind the Mask: Carrying on the themes raised in "Becoming", this episode deconstructs Angel the Mysterious Protector and Star Crossed Lover. He was a drunken hedonist as a human, now crushed under the guilt of hundreds of years of gleefully sadistic evil. A couple of years as Buffy's champion don't even begin to up for that, even if he hadn't used the opportunity to seduce the woman he was supposed to be protecting. Afraid that he doesn't have the strength of character to resist seducing (and killing) Buffy again, he tries to kill himself.
- Blatant Lies: Faith turns down Buffy's offer of Christmas dinner, claiming she's already been invited to a big party. Buffy herself denies it was mum who put her up to inviting Faith. However Faith turns up anyway.
- Breaking Speech: Plenty of these by the First to Angel.
- Catapult Nightmare: When Angel wakes up after dreaming of having sex with Buffy, then vamping out and biting her.
- Chekov's Gun: The dead Christmas trees.
- Christmas Episode
- Christmas Miracle / Deus ex Machina: It begins snowing on Sunnydale, leaving the town in total darkness, and saving Angel from burning. Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane.
- Continuity Nod: Joyce claiming that Giles didn't want to share Christmas with them is undoubtedly due to the embarrassing events of "Band Candy".
- Cryptic Conversation: Buffy is searching through Giles' Tome of Eldritch Lore for information on the First.
"'A child shall be born of man and goat and have two heads, and The First shall speak only in riddles...' No wonder you like this stuff. It's like reading The Sun."
- Disproportionate Retribution: Angelus murders a man because he can't pay his debts from a card game.
- Dissonant Serenity: Giles opens the door to find Angel standing there asking for a Vampire Invitation. He keeps it together and walks into the kitchen, then comes out with a loaded crossbow. Oh, Crap.
- Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Unless you're Buffy.
The First: You think you can fight me? I'm not a demon, little girl. I am something that you can't even conceive. The First Evil. Beyond sin, beyond death. I am the thing the darkness fears. You'll never see me, but I am everywhere. Every being, every thought, every drop of hate—
Buffy: Alright, I get it. You're evil. Do we have to chat about it all day?
Buffy: Let me guess. Is it...evil?
- Driven to Suicide: Angel tries to kill himself by allowing the sunrise to immolate him. He's saved.
- Eldritch Abomination: The First briefly morphs into one before disappearing.
- Eureka Moment: Buffy realising the dead Christmas trees reveal the location of the Bringers.
- Erotic Dream: The First gives Angel these to entice him into sleeping with Buffy and losing his soul.
Giles: You had another dream, with Angel? What happened?
Buffy: (long pause) We don't need to get sidetracked.
- Evil Is Burning Hot: A heatwave envelops Sunnydale; as soon as the First Evil is driven off, the temperature drops rapidly, creating snow.
- Evil Plan: The First wants Angel to kill the Slayer, and in the process turn him back into the evil Angelus. Angel decides to prevent this by committing suicide, but this is also acceptable to the First, as it means Angel can no longer be a weapon against evil.
- Evil Sounds Deep: "DEAD BY SUNRISE!"
- Exact Words: Willy says he's picked up some information from the Underground. "You know, from things that live under the ground."
- Eyeless Face: Bringers, or Harbingers. They have a 'no eyes' kinda look.
- Failed Attempt at Drama: After Willow says she wants to sleep with him, Oz responds by standing up.
Willow: Where are you going?
Oz: No, I'm not going. Just a dramatic gesture.
- Forced to Watch: Angel has a second dream in which Angelus kills a housemaid, only to be shocked to see Buffy staring at him. Cue both Angel and Buffy waking up in their separate beds.
- Buffy says she won't stand around and watch Angel immolate himself if that's what he wants to do. Then it starts snowing.
- Final Boss Preview: The First Evil will return as the Big Bad of Season 7.
- Foreshadowing: Angel drinking Buffy's blood comes to pass as the First predicts, albeit for different reasons ("Graduation Day, Part Two").
- What Buffy says to Angel "Strong is fighting! It's hard, and it's painful, and it's every day" is what he puts into practice in the spin-off series Angel. That series also continues the theme of higher powers (both good and evil) seeking to control or protect Angel for their own purposes.
- The First mentions that Liam was a terrible disappointment to his parents, something Angel relives in detail in his own series.
- Flashback Cut: Showing Angel as the drunken lout he was before being turned into a vampire.
- Friendship Moment: Affected by the Christmas spirit (actually because spending Christmas alone seems too depressing) the Scoobies try to patch up the differences that tore them apart. Oz reconciles with Willow, Giles and Xander help Buffy find out what's wrong with Angel, Faith accepts the invitation to dinner at the Summer's house. Cordelia however departs for Aspen with some snarky comments at the Scoobies (particularly Xander), and Buffy and Angel getting back together is as problematic as ever — these issues aren't resolved until "The Prom".
- Friend Versus Lover: To prove her relationship with Oz is stronger than her relationship with Xander, Willow decides to sleep with Oz.
- Frothy Mugs of Water: Played for Laughs as Willow has a couple of soda bottles in a champagne ice bucket, a sign that her attempt to seduce Oz isn't as grown up as she thinks.
- Ha Ha Ha No: Giles is less than pleased when Angel (who in their last encounter was torturing him) shows up at his doorstep.
Angel: I'm sorry to bother you.
Giles: (stares, then bursts out laughing) Sorry. That's just rather funny, coming from you. (chuckles) "Sorry to bother me."
Angel: I need your help.
Giles: And the funny keeps on coming.
- Hard Work Montage: The Scoobies researching the problem (and eating pizza).
- The Hedonist: Liam
- Holding Hands / Snow Means Love: Buffy and Angel at the end of the episode. Definitely not Just Friends.
- Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Buffy wishes for a nice quiet Christmas. What was she thinking?
- Humanoid Abomination. The Harbingers
- I Didn't Mean To Turn You On: After their erotic dream Angel encounters Buffy in her bedroom wearing a blood-red dress, her hair pinned up to expose her neck and her lower lip trembling from repressed emotion — he has to jump out the window to prevent himself from jumping her.
- I Have a Family
Margaret: (terrified) Sir! My son!
Angelus: Oh, he'll make a fine dessert.
- Inadvertent Entrance Cue: Xander asks who else could have as pathetic a social life as he does. Cue Willow walking through the door.
- Informed Judaism: Willow has to remind the others that being Jewish she doesn't actually celebrate Christmas. She promises to show some Hanukkah Spirit instead.
- Intertwined Fingers: In the Buffy/Angel sex scene.
- Ironic Echo: Tormented by his guilt, Angel cries, "Oh god!" The First just sneers. "Cry out. Make a scene."
- Insecure Love Interest
- I Wished You Were Dead: Inverted when Love Hurts
Buffy: I love you so much... And I tried to make you go away... I killed you and it didn't help. (crying) And I hate it! I hate that it's so hard... and that you can hurt me so much. (sobs, then harshly) I know everything that you did, because you did it to me. Oh, God! I wish that I wished you dead. I don't. (whispers) I can't.
- Just Like Making Love: Jenny!First urges Angel to pour out all his frustration into Buffy.
- Master of the Mixed Message
Angel: You have to stay away from me.
Buffy: (bewildered) You came to see me to tell me that I can't see you?
(He starts to move toward her. She backs away.)
Buffy: Angel, something is doing this to you. You just have to control it, okay? I-I know that you're confused.
Angel: (staring hungrily at her) I think you're the one who's confused.
- No Time to Explain: Buffy to Faith; Aesop Amnesia is averted when Buffy stresses that she will explain, all of it, remembering the lesson of "Revelations".
- Lady in Red: Invoked deliberately by Willow and accidentally by Buffy.
- Leave Me Alone: Finding Angel distraught in her bedroom, Buffy urges him to let her help. As he's struggling not to throw her onto the bed and have his way with her, Angel snarls at her to leave him alone and leaps out the window.
- Lets Wait Awhile: Oz turns down Willow's offer to lose her virginity, aware she's doing it just to prove she really loves him.
- Little Dead Riding Hood: Although it's a red dress instead of the usual hoodie.
- Love Makes You Evil: Buffy informs Angel the First has been manipulating him. He says it doesn't matter as he still wants Buffy, regardless of the consequences to them both.
- Madonna–Whore Complex: Implied when Angelus is forcing his attentions on the maid; presumably the son she refers to was born out of wedlock.
Angelus: Cry out. Call for help. I'm sure Mistress will believe your behavior beyond reproach. (sneers)
- Mind Rape: The First tries to pull one on Angel.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The Harbingers of Death.
- In-Universe when Buffy walks into Willy's Bar, whereupon the bartender greets 'The Slayer' very loudly. Several vampires make a prompt exit.
- No Means Yes: When Angel is struggling not to have his wicked way with Buffy, the First is whispering in his ear that Buffy wants him to do it.
- OOC Is Serious Business: Giles is not inclined to help Angel, until he flees out the door after seeing invisible people.
- Ominous Latin Chanting
Buffy: Alright, ten more minutes of chanting and then you guys have to go to bed.
- Percussive Maintenance: Faith on finding her TV isn't working.
- Perp Sweating: Xander isn't very good at it.
Willy: Doesn't ring a bell.
Xander: (menacingly) How about I ring that bell for you? (hopefully to Buffy) Does the threatening come now?
Buffy: Maybe you shouldn't help.
- Please Don't Leave Me: When her arguments fail to sway Angel from killing herself, all Buffy can do is beg him not to leave her.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Angelus bullies a servant into agreeing to have sex with him, and then shows her his Nightmare Face.
- Ready for Lovemaking: Oz enters Willow's house to find a candle-lit room, Willow wearing a tight red dress, and Barry White's "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe" playing on the stereo.
- The Reveal: Played with when we discover why Angel was brought out of the hell dimension — to kill Buffy. However Buffy is not willing to accept this explanation, and the fact that the First is willing to settle for Angel's suicide is an indication she's right.
- Say Your Prayers: One of Angelus' victims says the Twenty-third Psalm.
- Sex for Solace: What the First tempts Angel with — by sleeping with Buffy he can satiate his desire for her and then, by turning evil, be free of guilt forever.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Buffy pulls one on the Ultimate Evil!
- Sidetracked by the Analogy: Oz says he's jealous of Willow's history with Xander.
- Suicide By Sunlight: Angel tries to do this, but a miraculous snow shower clouds the sky so the sun doesn't show.
The First: You don't have the strength to kill yourself.
Angel: I don't need the strength. I just need the sun to rise.
- Talking Down the Suicidal: Buffy doesn't actually succeed, but fortunately a Christmas miracle occurs instead.
- Talking in Your Dreams: The First is trying to drive Angel over his Despair Event Horizon, so sends him dreams of his past crimes as Angelus. To further torment him, Buffy also shares these dreams. Then because having sex with Buffy will turn him evil, they start having shared Erotic Dreams as well.
- Tearjerker: Buffy trying to talk Angel out of killing himself.
- This and That: Willow offers to "do that thing" with Oz.
- This Is the Part Where...
- When Oz forgives Willow for straying with Xander, she asks if they're supposed to hug now. They do.
- When Perp Sweating Willy, Xander asks, "Does the threatening come now?"
- Twisted Christmas
- Two Scenes, One Dialogue
Buffy is silent. Cut to Angel in his mansion
Angel: I can't do it!
- Ultimate Evil: The First
- The Unreveal: We never find out if the First or the Powers That Be were responsible for bringing Angel out of the hell dimension, or if the snowstorm was due to the sudden drop of temperature or another miracle by the Powers That Be. In the Angel spin-off it's revealed that the forces of both good and evil have a vested interest in his survival, so either party could be involved.
- Unwanted Assistance: Buffy tells Xander "Maybe you shouldn't help" after his hilarious attempt to threaten Willy the Snitch. Afterwards, Willy deadpans "You did great, by the way. I was very intimidated by you." Xander buys it.
- Villains Never Lie
Buffy: Some great evil takes credit for bringing you back and you buy it?
- Violence Is the Only Option: Faced with an Angel who's going to pieces, Buffy urges Giles to give her something to pummel. Killing the Bringer priests and breaking the First's connection with Sunnydale may or may not have helped with the subsequent Christmas Miracle.
- Walking Wasteland: The Bringers cause the Christmas trees to wilt over their heads.
- You Can't Fight Fate: The First tells Angel it's his destiny to be a sadistic killer.
- You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With: And at this point in the series, Buffy really doesn't know. Then again she doesn't really care either.